Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hotel Owner/Operator and "Hospitality" Industry Pioneer Frank Blackinger [otd 8/26]

Hotel owner and operator Frank J. Blackinger was born August 26, 1855 in Buffalo, New York. His father Valentine had come to America from Bavaria in 1839. Around ten years later, he traveled to “the old country” and married, then immediately returned to New York. The family emigrated to Oregon in 1862. Two years later, his father opened a butcher shop in the settlement that became Silver City. He also opened a grocery store and, in 1864, brought his family to Idaho.

War Eagle Hotel. Directory of Owyhee County.
Five years after that, Valentine purchased the War Eagle Hotel. Frank worked in the hotel and the butcher shop for a number of years, and then found a job as a cowboy. The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper reported (October 18, 1873): “V. Blackinger, of the War Eagle Hotel, has returned from Oregon, having succeeded in purchasing some 400 head of cattle in Powder River and Grande Ronde valleys. He left his son Frank behind to bring up the drove which they will winter at Rabbit Creek.”

Frank’s father sold the hotel in 1878, worked in Boise City for three years, and then moved to Bellevue and opened a meat market.  Frank was already working in that area as a stockman and continued there for several years. The only son who survived to adulthood, Frank began to advance in the world as his attractive sisters married “coming” pioneers.

Thus, in 1872, sister Mary Ann married Hosea Eastman, a wealthy mine owner. Three years later, Eastman and another well-off mining investor, Timothy Regan [blog, Nov 14], became co-owners of the Idaho Hotel in Silver City. Regan bought full ownership in 1877 and, the following year, married Frank’s sister Rose. Frank returned to Silver City in the mid-1880s and began working at the hotel. When the Regans moved to Boise City in 1889, Frank became hotel manager.

Blackinger wedding picture.
Blackinger family archives.
In 1899, Blackinger married a popular Silver City schoolteacher and shortly thereafter the couple moved to Boise City. There, he and his brother-in-law opened the firm of Regan and Blackinger, which ran the Capitol Hotel. Regan engaged in a wide range of investments, while Frank specialized in the hotel, bar, and restaurant business.

In 1907, the firm sold the Capitol to the Idaho Brewing Company and Frank chose not to remain on to manage the operation for the new owners. He did, however, consult with his successor every so often and put in appearances “for old times sake.” (Apparently, the aging Capitol was a favorite of “old-timers” who had known Frank and his father in Silver City.)

A year after he left the Capitol Hotel, Blackinger purchased the buffet restaurant at the Overland Building and ran that for about eight years. When that closed down, Frank leased the restaurant at the Idanha Hotel and renovated it. Then, in 1917, Frank bought “the lease, furnishings and business of the Grand Hotel.” (Idaho Statesman, March 1, 1917). He did not own the property itself.

Blackinger was still identified as the proprietor of the Hotel Grand in 1925. He would have been 70 years old at that time. While that might seem odd, it is not at all impossible – Frank lived until March 1943.
References: [Hawley]
Nancy DeHamer, “Hosea Eastman, Timothy Regan, and Frank Blackinger,” Reference Series No. 728, Idaho State Historical Society (1971).
Dick D’Easum, The Idanha: Guests and Ghosts of an Historic Idaho Inn, Caxton Printers, Ltd. (1984).
A Historical, Descriptive and Commercial Directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, Owyhee Avalanche Press (January 1898).


  1. I have been visiting various blogs for my term papers writing research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

  2. Thanks. Since my articles are usually pretty short, I assume the list of references is especially helpful for what you're doing. I like to think that is one thing that sets my treatment apart from so many that provide NO citations for what they write.

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  4. Hi can you tell me whappened to the capitol hotel, does it still exist?

  5. The old Capitol Hotel no longer exists. Near as I can tell from Idaho State Historical Society records, it was torn down sometime around 1934.

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